A/N - I'm baaaack! After 8 years, I finally picked this story back up, and I intend to finish it. If you read the old chapter two, you'll recognize half of this, but this is the Chapter 2 I always meant to write. I promise Chapter 3 is coming soon!
YOU ONLY DIE TWICE
Part One: Cyclical History
CHAPTER TWO: Buried Secrets
Kristýna writhed in pain on the cold, hard hospital bed. These were not beds made for comfort – they were made for utilitarian use, as was everything in the Soviet controlled state. Practically over aesthetics and comfort. She grasped hard at the hand of the old nurse who stood beside her as she pushed. The baby was coming, and it was putting up a fight. The pain was overbearing, and she could only hope the anesthesia would kick in soon.
She was going to be a single mother. It wasn't supposed to have been this way. She had loved Vaclav with all her heart. She could still remember his messy mop of hair, the rough skin on his face and the beard which both gave him his rugged good looks and made Kristýna itch every time she kissed him. He had died much too young. He had been killed in an accident at the factory right after his thirtieth birthday. "Be safe, dear," she had told him every day before he left for work. That day he had not been. She hated machinery, and she did not want her child to grow up and make the same mistakes as his father. She yearned for a better life for her child than she had, although she wasn't sure how she could provide it.
"Push." The sound of the old nurse's voice brought Kristýna back into the painful reality of the birthing room. She pushed as hard as she could. Her mouth let out the only sound possible, a scream of agony at the excruciating pain.
"It's crowning," said the doctor. Kristýna pushed and pushed, fighting against the pain, determined to deliver this baby into the world. Perhaps he would have Vaclav's beautiful blue eyes, or his dimpled smile. As long as he didn't have the beaked nose, she merely longed for a recognizable aspect that would let her lost love forever live on in his heir. Death begetting new life.
Finally, the baby delivered, Kristýna collapsed. A few minutes later, the doctor brought over her beautiful baby.
"It's a boy," he said. But something else had caught Kristýna's eye.
"What's wrong with him? Can he breathe?" she asked. Over the boy's face was a shimmering mask, stretched from ear to ear, covering the poor boy's head.
"We're going to have to cut a few holes in the mask to aid his breathing, but your boy is fine. Perfectly healthy," the doctor said. "It's pretty rare to be born with a caul like this."
"Yes, a membrane. A membrane attaching at each ear over the face. We'll remove it shortly. We can give it to you if you'd like."
"Why would I want it?"
"A lot of mothers do. It's supposed to be a sign of good luck." After giving Kristýna a minute to hold her precious newborn, the doctor picked him back up.
"Have you thought of a name yet?"
"Alfonso, I think. After his grandfather."
Kristýna awoke from her slumber to see the nurse bringing lunch. She appeared to be a kindly old lady, and Kristýna had been put at ease by her appearance. "How are you feeling?" she asked. "Everything alright?"
"Oh, yes," Kristýna replied. "How is the baby?"
"Just fine, sleeping like a little angel. We've removed the caul, and preserved it in case you wanted it." The nurse set the tray of food in front of Kristýna. A simple turkey sandwich and a side salad. "Now eat up."
Kristýna picked up the sandwich and took a bite. A bit dry, but she needed the nourishment. Despite her nap, she was still spent. "What's so significant about this thing anyway?"
"It marks your son for greatness. It is a sign that he is special."
Kristýna had never been one for folktales. In fact, she actively disliked the idea. Science had grown so much since she was born, and had proven so many things wrong about the world she thought she knew. Old wives tales were just that, tales, best left for fiction. And yet, all she wanted was a better life for her son than the one she had. Could this aspect of his birth really portend the future? Could her son make a difference?
"The Russians have a saying about it. родился в рубашке. Born lucky. Some believe it has supernatural abilities. Providing a sort of armor against potential calamitous events. Great people throughout history have been born behind the veil – Charlamagne, Napoleon. They can sense things about others can't. Some believe they are psychic, others that they are merely more in tune with the universe. Your son is special. Your son will change the world."
Alfonso Kavelek, thought Kristýna, born for greatness.
The smell of the hearth fire permeated the room; the crackling sounds of the fire the only audible noise apart from the endless drone of the television. The tongues of the fire danced, flickering light over the faces of the two young women.
"Lucy, what do you mean?" Amy asked, Lucy didn't answer, her face sinking even further. Abruptly, she moved from the couch to the bookshelf on the wall opposite the fireplace, where she began a furious search. "Luce, you're scaring me."
Still, Lucy didn't respond, continuing her search. After clearing half of the bookshelf, overturning many of the books and leaving things a disorderly mess, Lucy found what she was looking for, pulling a large red canvas-bound book from the shelf. She blew across the surface, clearing the dust, which flew away from the book in a cloud. Lucy Reynolds crossed the room and tossed the book to her lover and fiancee.
Amy gazed at the book in confusion, taking in the gold border that was engraved on the cover.
"Open it," Lucy said, the silence finally broken. Amy followed directions and, as she opened the book, was greeted by an old, yellow-tinted photo. The picture showed a man and a woman, the woman with a small babe in her arms, two other children, a boy and a girl stood on either side of the couple. The man and what Amy assumed was his family wore the clothes of poverty, old-fashioned garments that were torn and tattered. The family stood in front of a backdrop of a large ship, from which a stream of people seemed to be exiting. Far in the distance, Amy thought she might have been able to make out the Statue of Liberty, towering above all else.
"That's us," Lucy said. "Not me, I mean, but the Reynolds family, fresh off the boats from England. They'd lived a harsh life in England, and the rumors of this New World excited them, I guess. So they packed up all their possessions and were one of the first immigrants to come over from England in the 1880s. Once they got here, they tried settling down in Maryland, if you turn the page."
Amy did so, finding another old, decaying picture. This one depicted the children, now older, probably in their teenage years, working endless fields. The plantation itself looked as if it were a wreck; the only plants Amy saw in the picture were either dying or already dead. "Obviously, they tried to settle into the only lifestyle they knew, which was farming. They failed miserably. It was the Age of Steel, as my Dad told me, and they weren't ready for it. All the rumors they'd heard about America were vicious lies. But still, they remained vulnerable, even as they began to hunger. Dad told me that Catlyn, the girl in the first photo, the older of their two daughters, died in Baltimore. Anyway, once they heard of the gold in California, they figured it was an easy way to get rich, and so they packed up their bags and headed west."
"From the stories passed down, the travel was gruesome," Lucy continued. Amy glanced at the photo on the opposite page to see another old photo, which showed the wagon the family had traveled in, and the unhappy passengers in front. Every single one of them looked thinner even than when they had arrived in America.
"Anyway, once they got to California, of course, most of the gold was already gone - gobbled up by the people who had been there for decades. Just their luck that they arrived at the very end of the rush, you know? So they staked it out farming again. For a decade or so it worked, but as time grew on, that field kind of dried up. Anyway, Robert, the grandson of the couple in the first picture, and my Dad's grandfather and namesake was forced to get a job in a factory just to put food on the table for the family. For a while, the story goes, that was sufficient. Robert found a wife, and had children of his own, the entire Reynolds clan still living together. Despite the government not letting unions form, he got paid just enough to live on."
"Then came the Great Depression. It hit the Reynolds especially hard. While Robert's mother had already died, the Depression practically ended his father's life. Robert lost his job, and the Reynolds went into poverty again. Robert and his wife lost their first child from malnutrition. That's when, after trying everything else, the Reynolds crime family was born."
"First it started out just by stealing bread and everything. Sure, Robert could have waited in soup lines, I guess, but it was demeaning. The Reynolds have never been people to allow themselves to be looked down on; we've always been strong. Anyway, Robert began to steal food to feed his family, but naturally, as he continued thievery undetected by the police, he progressed from food to clothing, and somewhere along the line the family turned to art and diamond thefts."
"And bank heists?" added Amy.
Lucy laughed, "Nah, not until Dad. I guess you could say that we were the first family of serial cat burglary in California. If you look in the book, you'll see a lot of the exploits that turned up in the newspapers."
Amy did as instructed, her eyes growing wider at each headline she read. Tiger Diamond Disappears from L.A. Art Museum. Da Vinci Goes Missing. Van Gogh Van Goes - The Case of the Vanishing Paintings.
"The authorities never really caught on," Lucy continued, her face emotionless, still lost in deep thought, "but the Reynolds' reputation grew and grew in the underground circles. Soon, they were known as the top criminals on the western half of the US, if not the top criminals in the country. They had their run of Los Angeles, and they loved it. No one really challenged them, until the Schaffers came."
Amy flipped another page, a photograph of two men, arms around each other. Both men wore billy caps on their heads and were dressed in fine black suits without ties. Both were grinning wide smiles.
Lucy looked down at the picture and smiled a forlorn smile. "That one's of my grandfather, Jack and George Schaffer. The Schaffers arrived in California just as World War II was ending, not a penny to their name. Like the Reynolds, their family had originally come from England, and Robert supposedly saw a lot of his own family in them. He took pity on them, and took the family under his wing. Jack, who was following in his fathers footsteps, became fast friends with George, who was about his age. For a time, they were partners, the Reynolds and the Schaffers. George even married Jack's sister, Abby, and as my Dad told me, it seemed like it would be a bond between families that would last forever."
"Anyway, apparently Abby became ill, which was hard on both families. George broke ties with the Reynolds and Robert blamed him for her sickness, which probably wasn't right. By the time she died, the two families were so far apart that there was no reconciliation."
"That's when the feud started. In the beginning, it was just George moving in and subsequently thwarting some of Jack's conquests. Jack didn't take too well to that, but they staked out territory peacefully. The Reynolds, as the more prominent of the two families, took the better part of California, while the Shaffers pretty much consigned themselves to Northern California. But they weren't happy with it, and they moved in a couple of times on Reynolds territory."
"Of course, that bothered Jack a lot, and he sent out a few men for a mission in Schaffer territory. They never returned. One day, Jack got a box on his doorstep. He opened it and inside were five fingers, one of which had a ring with the Reynolds monogram on it. His men had been slaughtered."
"And thus the blood feud began." Lucy sighed. Amy flipped through picture after picture of bloody scene, dead bodies and photos of the Reynolds family armed with guns and knives.
"Then, finally, along came Dad. I guess he thought he could reach out to the Schaffers, and it looked like he had, they reached a peaceful truce for more than a couple years. All my childhood, he would tell me the family story before I went to sleep, he wanted to warn me about repeating the past," at this Lucy laughed, snorting bitterly. "Other kids got bedtime stories about princes and princesses and even pirates. Mine were about poverty and crime and blood. Some childhood–probably explains why I was so screwed up."
Amy closed the book as Lucy walked over and sat next to her on the couch. Amy put a reassuring hand on Lucy's back and rested her head on her fiancee's shoulder, eliciting a smile from the brunette. Anyway, a few skirmishes broke out a couple weeks before his death, but we didn't really think much of it. His last mission, he went to Europe after reading about this mysterious priceless necklace, the Patiala Necklace. He never returned either. After two weeks of worrying, my mother received a video tape. It showed–" Lucy choked up, a tear welling in the corner of her eye as her lips shook. Amy reached up a hand and brushed away the tear.
"What was on the tape?" Amy asked, dreading the answer for which her lover couldn't manage to find the words.
"It showed," Lucy took a deep breath, exhaling through her mouth before continuing, "It showed Nathan Schaffer, executing my father with a single bullet. Dad was chained up to this metal slab. I burned the tape."
"After that, it was war. Slowly but surely the Schaffers diminished in number until I made a deal with the devil. Corleone agreed to dispose of the last remaining Schaffers, but like every deal he ever made, he required three favors in return. He sent orders out for their execution, and they were dealt with, or so I was told."
Amy's hand slid from Lucy's face as the blonde blanched.
"Amy, I was weak. Don't hate me," Lucy pleaded.
"You had them killed?" Amy said incredulously.
"I was a different person back then!" Lucy protested.
"I thought you didn't believe in killing."
"I don't. I didn't. But Amy, they killed my dad, and I was so mad. I was blinded by revenge. I couldn't think straight."
Amy was silent for a good few seconds, as she considered the new information. "That was years ago. You made a bad decision."
"Chastity never should have happened."
"What does she have to do with this?" Lucy asked, confused.
"He forced you into a bogus deal. He never planned on keeping his end. Your reunion was one of those favors, right?"
Lucy's nose furrowed as she fell into thought. "You're right. He's been stringing me along for years, and I was too naïve to see it. The manipulative bastard."
As if on cue, the phone chose that precise moment to ring.
Finally alone, Max Brewer glanced up at the clock which to her surprise read Two AM. Had she really been up that long? The time she had spent with the Junior D.E.B.S. had just flown by. Reflexively, she yawned, bringing her hand up to cover her mouth. Her eyelids began to feel like ten-pound weights. Shed lost track of the time; try as she might, her body just wasn't built for twenty-hour days.
Exhausted, Max picked up her briefcase, exited her office and began to stroll down the hallway, eager to get back to her quarters and collapse on her bed.
"Hey, Max! Wait up!" called a deep male voice from behind her. Max stopped her path and turned her head towards Gene, a genuine smile breaking through her fatigue.
"Hey, whats up?"
"Nothing much, want some?" Gene asked as he munched on a pack of cheese crackers in his hand.
"Sure," Max responded, as he peeled back the wrapper and handed her one of the square, orange crackers.
"So, how are things going with the kids? Sending them off to school yet?" Gene asked, flashing his teeth as a sly grin lit up his face.
Max laughed at the running joke between the two. Max spent so much time with the school-girl D.E.B.S. that she might as well be their mother. "They're good. Danielle's a real leader, they're lucky to have her. But Meagan–I'm just not sure with her. Maybe she'll end up getting it, but she doesn't have that long. She worries me sometimes. I mean, shes a great girl, but I'm not sure shes got the makeup of a true D.E.B."
Gene snorted, he'd heard this before. "Isn't that what you said about Janet a long time ago? I tend to remember discussions you, Scud, Janet and I have had, where you said you never thought she'd make it, and now look at her. She's got it all figured out."
Max looked up at the D.E.B.S./CIA liaison, looking into the deep brown eyes that complimented his fair skin. "Yeah," she admitted, "there's a lot about her that reminds me of Janet. But Janet already had it all together this close to graduation, even if I didn't realize it."
And what makes you so sure Meagan doesn't?
Max silently, albeit fondly cursed Gene. Why did he have to be so damn wise? Maybe he was right, maybe Meagan already knew what it meant to be a D.E.B. Perhaps she just showed it in a different fashion. "I guess I cant be sure. But she really cant get her stripes until she proves it, can she?"
"That's your call between you and Danielle." Gene finished. "Oh, by the way, um–speaking of Janet, are you going to the wedding in a couple weeks?"
"Of course," Max laughed, "she's one of my squad. D.E.B.S. stick together, I wouldn't miss it for the world. How about you?"
Gene flashed her a toothy grin. "Of course I'm going to be there! I'm Scuds best man after all!"
"So, I'll see you there," said Max. She would have said more, but she often found it awkward to talk to Gene. Why was it that hard? She was Max Brewer, she could face down criminal masterminds with ease, but talking to Gene seemed to be harder than that.
"Um...would...um" Gene began and paused, a hitch in his voice. Max looked up questioningly, only to see his face blush a fierce red.
After waiting a few silent seconds for Gene to resume speech, Max took matters into her own hands. "So, was there something you wanted to ask?"
Genes face flushed yet again. "Would you...um...eh...Would you want–erm...um...Would you happen to know what the weathers like outside?"
Max had more than a sneaking suspicion that wasn't the question he was really meaning to ask, but she had to admit, he was kind of cute when he got all flustered. "No, I don't know. I didn't bother to check."
Gene opened his mouth, and quickly shut it again. Whatever he wanted to say just wasn't going to come out of his mouth. Max began to walk out of the D.E.B.S. building to her car, and Gene followed closely behind, an awkward silence overshadowing the walk.
As they approached Jameson's exit, the pounding of torrential rainfall grew louder and louder. Opening the glass door, Max inhaled a breath through her nose, savoring the smell of a fresh spring rain.
"Oh shit!" Gene exclaimed, his face scrunching into an extremely annoyed expression. "What a night for my car to be at the repair shop!" He fumbled with his hand in the back pocket of his pants, searching for what Max could only imagine to be a token for the transportation system.
Max reached into her briefcase and withdrew a black umbrella. Forcing it open and stepping out of the door, safe beneath its protective surface, she smiled and turned back to Gene, who was still scuffling around in his pocket. "Hey! Want a ride?" she shouted over the pounding rain.
Genes face relaxed, his emotion clearly changing on his face from exasperation to relieved gratitude. "Oh, thank you. You're a lifesaver!" he said as he ran through the rain to Max, just fitting under the umbrella beside her.
Giggling, the two sprinted to Max's car, simply and genuinely glad to be in each others company.
Lucy picked up the phone, instinctively knowing and dreading who was on the other end. "Hello, Corleone."
"I suspect you've seen news by now, Lucy" he hissed. The accent sent shivers down Lucy's back. She looked over at her fiancée, who had a fierce, angry and protective look furrowing her brow.
"I have. You son of a bitch."
"Lucy, I am just as shocked as anyone." Lies. Lying was all Corleone ever did. He had built an empire on it, and Lucy was at her breaking point with them.
"Cut the bullshit. Why are you calling? What's your agenda?"
"I need to call in third favor."
"I don't owe you anything," Lucy snarled. She would never let this man control her life again. "That deal was broken the second I agreed to it."
"I had no part in Schaffers' reappearance. Believe what you will, but know this: refusing me is not option."
"And what if I refuse anyway?" Amy was creeping ever nearer the phone. Lucy stuck out a finger, asking her to be patient. "I can handle this"she mouthed. Amy nodded, walked behind Lucy, and wrapped her in a protective cocoon of an embrace.
"I would loathe killing you, Lucy. You have always been favorite of mine. You wouldn't want to make foolish mistake. I know where you live. I know where you work. I know about girlfriend, Amy." Lucy's heart sunk. Corleone was right, and he was always five steps ahead in the game, he had her trapped. Lucy knew that she and Amy could handle themselves in a fight, but Corleone's network was expansive, and standing it could only end one way. They would keep fighting, but eventually they'd either end up on the run, or dead.
"You bastard. What do you want?" Amy squeezed. Lucy had been holding her breath, not even realizing it. She took a deep breath as Amy began to massage her back. She could feel the tense knots in her shoulder blades as Amy kneaded the muscles.
"You know casino in Nice, correct?"
"Meet me there in three days, at noon. No harm will come to you or DEB. I promise." He hung up.
Amy took Lucy's hand and guided her back to the couch. She had turned the television off during the time Lucy had been on the phone. "Lie down. I need to get those knots out of you. And take off your shirt." Lucy did as she was told. She couldn't think of one instance where she would ever possibly disobey Amy's orders to take off her shirt. Amy climbed over Lucy, straddling her as she continued to forcefully press into the knots on Lucy's back. "How did you ever get so tight?" she asked.
"Oh you know, the past few years have just been all peaches and sunshine all the time," she responded in jest, only to feel Amy press into her back even harder. "Ow!"
"Stop complaining, you need to relax."
"How can I when Corleone is lording all his knowledge and threats over me?"
"Well, great. I think you've officially missed the entire point of what I was trying to do. Congratulations, you've thwarted another scheme of mine," Amy said, as she sat up and stopped rubbing between Lucy's shoulders. Lucy responded with a groan, it had felt so good and now she missed Amy's sweet touch on her skin.
"Don't stop," Lucy pleaded with her.
"Okay, but not until you tell me what's going on. I'm was trying to put you at ease, but your mind needs to be relaxed too. Else all that tenseness is going to build back up. Relax a bit." Amy responded.
"I know something that will help me relax," Lucy said, suggestively.
"Lucy, I'm serious!"
"So am I! You're straddling me for crying out loud!" Lucy instantly knew she had said the wrong thing as the long legged blonde climbed off of Lucy and sat adjacent to her in one of the armchairs. "Aww, come on! That felt so good."
"I'll make you a deal. Tell me what's going on, so you can get it off your mind, and I'll continue. Deal?"
"Fine," Lucy said, sighing. She told Amy all about the phone call and the threats that Corleone had made against the two of them. As Lucy told her story, a steely resolve came over the blonde beauty. "So, you see why I have to at least meet him, right?"
"Absolutely," Amy responded.
"Really? I was a little bit afraid you'd be wary, after the last time."
"Lucy, I trust you, and I trust your judgment. We've both grown a lot since last time. If you're in this, I'm in it with you. Where you go, I go." Lucy nodded, as an ocean of relief flooded over her. Amy continued, "There's just two things we need to do first."
"Well, we have dinner with Scud and Janet in three hours, so we're going to need to get ready for that. I'm letting them know about this-" Lucy started to speak up to tell her that it was a bad idea, but Amy cut her off before she could say a word. "No arguments. I'm not putting you in danger without having some backup. You know they can help, so let them. You have people in this world that care an awful lot about you."
"Okay, so that's one thing. What's the other?"
Amy rose, and sashayed her way seductively back to Lucy. "Before we do that, now that you're relaxed, let's finish what we started."
Lucy liked the sound of that, and a little purr escaped her lips as she lay down once more and Amy climbed on top of her, kissing her bare back before returning to the massage.